Journal Article

Avian cryptococcosis

R. Malik, M. B. Krockenberger, G. Cross, R. Doneley, D. N. Madill, D. Black, P. Mcwhirter, A. Rozenwax, K. Rose, M. Alley, D. Forshaw, I. Russell-Brown, A. C. Johnstone, P. Martin, C. R. O'Brien and D. N. Love

in Medical Mycology

Published on behalf of International Society for Human and Animal Mycology

Volume 41, issue 2, pages 115-124
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1369-3786
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1460-2709 | DOI:
Avian cryptococcosis

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  • Mycology and Fungi
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Medical Toxicology
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Environmental Science


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Clinical and laboratory findings in 15 unreported cases of avian cryptococcosis from Australia were collated and contrasted with 11 cases recorded in the literature. Cryptococcus species produced localized invasive disease of the upper respiratory tract of captive parrots living in Australia. This resulted in signs referable to mycotic rhinitis or to involvement of structures contiguous with the nasal cavity, such as the beak, sinuses, choana, retrobulbar space and palate. Parrots of widely differing ages were affected and of the seven birds for which sex was determinable, six were male. Cryptococcus bacillisporus (formerly C. neoformans var. gattii) accounted for four of five infections in which the species or variety was determinable, suggesting that exposure to eucalyptus material may be a predisposing factor. In these cases, Cryptococcus appeared to behave as a primary pathogen of immunocompetent hosts. One tissue specimen was available from an Australian racing pigeon with minimally invasive subcutaneous disease; immunohistology demonstrated a C. neoformans var. grubii (formerly C. neoformans var. neoformans serotype A) infection, presumably subsequent to traumatic inoculation of yeast cells into the subcutis. Two similar cases had been reported previously in pigeons domiciled in America. Data for parrots, one pigeon and other birds studied principally in America and Europe (and likely infected with C. neoformans) suggested a different pattern of disease, more suggestive of opportunistic infection of immunodeficient hosts. In this cohort of patients, the organism was not restricted to cool superficial sites such as the upper respiratory tract or subcutis. Instead, infections typically penetrated the lower respiratory tract or disseminated widely to a variety of internal organs. Finally, three captive North Island brown kiwis, one residing in Australia, the other two in New Zealand, died as a result of severe diffuse cryptococcal pneumonia (two cases) or widely disseminated disease (one case). C. bacillisporus strains were isolated from all three cases, as reported previously for another kiwi with disseminated disease in New Zealand.

Keywords: avian; birds; cryptococcosis; Cryptococcus bacillisporus; Cryptococcus neoformans var. gattii; Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii; kiwi; parrots; pigeons

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Mycology and Fungi ; Infectious Diseases ; Medical Toxicology ; Veterinary Medicine ; Environmental Science

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